- Cameroon win second CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations
- Angola, Nigeria also seal U-17 World Cup berths
- Senegal will replace Guinea at Brazil 2019
Cameroon won their first CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations title in 16 years by beating Guinea 5-3 on penalties after the final in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam had finished goalless. Angola completed the podium thanks to their 2-1 defeat of Nigeria in the match for third place.
With these results, Cameroon, Angola and Nigeria will be Africa's representatives at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019. Senegal’s qualification has been confirmed by CAF’s Executive Committee following the decision taken by CAF’s disciplinary body to disqualify Guinea..
Indomitable Lions crowned African kings
Cameroon were anything but flamboyant in Tanzania, failing to win any of their last three matches in the competition in regulation time, all of them ending in goalless draws. But in conceding a solitary goal in the competition and holding their nerve in two penalty shoot-outs, Thomas Libiih’s players did what they had to do to claim the title.
Much of the credit for that should go to goalkeeper Manfred Ekoi, who was in supreme form in the semi-final and final shoot-outs, though their standout performer was Steve Mvoue. The son of former Cameroon women’s international Regine Mvoue, the playmaker was in a class of his own throughout the two-week competition and was named Player of the Tournament.
Provided he stays free of injury, the gifted Mvoue should be gracing Brazil 2019 in a few months’ time, when Cameroon will make their return to the world finals after a 16-year absence. A side featuring Alexandre Song and Stephane Mbia failed to progress beyond the group phase at Finland 2003, a performance that the current crop of Indomitable Lions will be hoping to improve on later this year.
Angola spring a surprise
Brazil 2019 will see Angola represent Africa for the first time at the U-17 World Cup. They upset the odds by reaching the semi-finals in Tanzania and then edging out Nigeria in the match for third place.
Spearheaded by Pedro Capemba, the competition’s leading scorer with four goals, and playmaker Zito, Angola produced some entertaining football to record their best ever performance in the competition, their run only ended by a 4-3 shoot-out defeat to Cameroon in the last four.
“I am so proud we have achieved a result like this in such a tough competition,” said Angola’s Portuguese coach Pedro Soares Concalves. “I’ve been part of a few youth tournaments in my country but this U-17 Africa Cup of Nations is one of the tightest I’ve even been involved in. It’s given me a better understanding of the performances of African youth teams in World Cups.”
Meanwhile, Nigeria - the most successful team in the history of the U-17 World Cup - were aiming to secure a return to the competition, having missed out on India 2017. The Golden Eaglets did just that, booking their place at Brazil 2019. And though they failed for the third African finals in a row to finish among the top three, they will be heartened by the fact that they also placed fourth at the 2015 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations and went on to be crowned world champions in Chile a few months later.